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Full text of "The story without an end"



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BOSTON 
PUBLIC 
LIBRARY 




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NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY 



THE 
STORY WITHOUT AN END 



The Child tries to catch the little Lamb. , 



THE STORY 
WITHOUT AN END 



From the German of Carove 



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BY 



SARAH AUSTIN 



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WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY FRANK C. PAPE 



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PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 
BY HENRY STONE AND SON, LTD., BANBURY, ENGLAND 

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CONTENTS 


Page 


Chapter 


-L • • • • 


I 


Chapter 


II ... . 


15 


Chapter 


Ill ... 


29 


Chapter 


IV ... . 


39 


Chapter 


v 

» • • • • 


• 53 


Chapter 


VI . . . . 


65 


Chapter 


VII .. . 


• 75 


Chapter 


VIII . . . . 


87 


Chapter 


IX ... 


• 99 


Chapter 


jL . , . , 


105 


Chapter 


XI . . . 


• "7 


Chapter 


XII . 


133 


Chapter 


XIII 


• 143 


Chapter 


XIV . . . . 


161 



Vll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Child tries to catch the 

Little Lamb . . . Frontispiece 

The Child talks to the Drops 

OF Water .... Page 19 

The Child tries to catch the 

Star . . . . • 5. 33 

The Rose greets the Child . ,, 37 

The Mouse and the Lizard talk 

TO THE Child . . . „ 63 

The Harebell and the Dragon 

Fly . . . . . „ 89 

The Child sees the Will o' the 

Wisps . . . . . „ 119 

The Red Corn-Poppies laugh at 

the Lark . . . . „ 151 



IX 



TO MY DAUGHTER. 

My dear Child, 

The story you love so much in 
German I dedicate to you in EngUsh. 
It was in compUance with your earnest 
wish that other children might share 
the delight it has so often afforded you, 
that I translated it; so that it is, in 
some sort, yours of right. Let us 
hope that your confident expectations 
of sympathy in your pleasure may not 
be disappointed; or that, if others 
think the story less beautiful than you 



XI 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

do, they may find compensation in the 
graceful designs it has inspired. 

You have often regretted that it 
left off so soon, and would, I believe, 
^^have been glad to hear more and 
more, and for ever." The continu- 
ation you have longed for lies in a 
wide and magnificent book, which 
contains more wonderful and glorious 
things than all our favourite fairy-tales 
put together. But to read in that 
book, so as to discover all its beautiful 
meanings, you must have pure, clear 
eyes, and an humble, loving heart; 
otherwise you will complain, as some 
do, that it is dim and puzzling, or as 
others, that it is dull and monotonous. 



XIU 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

May you continue to read in it with 
new curiosity 5 new delight, and new 
profit; and to find it, as long as you 
live, the untiring " Story without an 
End." 

Your afi'ectionate Mother, 

S.A. 



XV 



f 
/* 



THE STORY WITHOUT 

AN END 

I. 

^ I ^HERE was once a Child who 
Uved in a httle hut, and in the 
hut there was nothing but a httle 
bed, and a looking-glass which hung 
in -a dark corner. Now the Child 
cared nothing at all about the looking- 
glass, but as soon as the first sunbeam 
glided softly through the casement 
and kissed his sweet eyelids, and the 



B 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

finch and the Hnnet waked him 
merrily with their morning songs, he 
arose, and went out into the green 
meadow. And he begged flour of 
the primrose, and sugar of the violet, 
and butter of the buttercup ; he 
shook dewdrops from the cowslip 
into the cup of the harebell, spread 
out a large lime-leaf, set his little 
breakfast upon it, and feasted daintily. 
Sometimes he invited a humming- 
bee, oftener a gay butterfly, to partake 
of his feast ; but his favourite guest 
was a blue dragon-fly. The bee 
murmured a good deal, in a solemn 
tone, about his riches ; but the Child 
thought that if he were a bee, heaps 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

of treasure would not make him gay 
and happy, and that it must be much 
more deUghtful and glorious to float 
about in the free and fresh breezes of 
spring, and to hum joyously in the 
web of the sunbeams, than, with heavy 
feet and heavy heart, to stow the 
silver wax and the golden honey into 
cells. 

To this the butterfly assented, and 
he told how, once on a time, he too 
had been greedy and sordid ; how he 
had thought of nothing but eating, 
and had never once turned his eyes 
upwards to the blue heavens. At 
length, however, a complete change 
had come over him, and instead of 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

crawling spiritless about the dirty 
earth, half dreaming, he all at once 
awaked as out of a deep sleep. And 
now he could rise into the air ; and it 
was his greatest joy sometimes to play 
with the light, and to reflect the 
heavens in the bright eyes of his wings; 
sometimes to listen to the soft lan- 
guage of the flowers, and catch their 
secrets. Such talk delighted the Child, 
and his breakfast was the sweeter to 
him, and the sunshine on leaf and 
flower seemed to him more bright and 
cheering. 

But when the bee had flown off" to 
beg from flower to flower, and the 
butterfly had fluttered away to his play- 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

fellows, the dragon-fly still remained, 
poised on a blade of grass. Her slender 
and burnished body, more brightly and 
deeply blue than the deep blue sky, 
glistened in the sunbeam ; and her 
net-like wings laughed at the flowers 
because they could not fly, but must 
stand still and abide the wind and the 
rain. The dragon-fly sipped a Httle 
of the Child's clear dewdrops and blue 
violet honey, and then whispered her 
winged words. And the Child made 
an end of his repast, closed his dark 
blue eyes, bent down his beautiful 
head, and listened to the sweet prattle. 
Then the dragon-fly told much of 
the merry life in the green wood ; how 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

sometimes she played hide-and-seek 
with her playfellows under the broad 
leaves of the oak and the beech trees, 
or hunt-the-hare along the surface of 
the still waters ; sometimes quietly 
watched the sunbeams, as they flew 
busily from moss to flower and from 
flower to bush, and shed life and 
warmth over all. But at night, she 
said, the moonbeams glided softly 
around the wood, and dropped dew 
into the mouths of all the thirsty 
plants; and when the dawn pelted 
the slumberers with the soft roses of 
heaven, some of the half-drunken 
flowers looked up and smiled, but 
most of them could not so much as 



T I 



1 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

raise their heads for a long, long time. 
Such stories did the dragon-fly tell; 
and as the Child sat motionless, with 
his eyes shut, and his head rested on 
his little hand, she thought he had 
fallen asleep ; so she poised her double 
wings and flew into the rustling wood. 



13 



II. 

XDUT the Child was only sunk into 
a dream of delight, and was 
wishing he were a sunbeam or a moon- 
beam ; and he would have been glad 
to hear more and more, and for ever. 
But at last, as all was still, he opened 
his eyes and looked around for his dear 
guest, but she was flown far away ; so 
he could not bear to sit there any 
longer alone, and he rose and went to 
the gurgling brook. It gushed and 



15 



I 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

rolled so merrily, and tumbled so 
wildly along as it hurried to throw 
itself head-over-heels into the river, 
just as if the great massy rock out of 
which it sprang were close behind it, 
and could only be escaped by a break- 
neck leap. 

Then the Child began to talk to the 
little waves, and asked them whence 
they came. They would not stay to 
give him an answer, but danced away, 
one over another ; till at last, that the 
sweet Child might not be grieved, a 
drop of water stopped behind a piece 
of rock. From her the Child heard 
strange histories, but he could not 
understand them all, for she told him 



17 



The Child talks to the Drops of Water. 



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V 






THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

about her former life, and about the 
depths of the mountain. 

'' A long while ago," said the drop 
of water, '' I lived with my countless 
sisters in the great ocean, in peace and 
unity. We had all sorts of pastimes ; 
sometimes we mounted up high into 
the air, and peeped at the stars ; then 
we sank plump down deep below, and 
looked how the coral builders work 
till they are tired, that they may reach 
the light of day at last. But I was 
conceited, and thought myself much 
better than my sisters. And so one 
day, when the sun rose out of the sea, 
I clung fast to one of his hot beams, 
and thought that now I should reach 



21 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the stars, and become one of them. 
But I had not ascended far, when the 
sunbeam shook me off, and, in spite of 
all I could say or do, let me fall into a 
dark cloud. And soon a flash of fire 
darted through the cloud, and now I 
thought I must surely die ; but the 
whole cloud laid itself down softly 
upon the top of a mountain, and so I 
escaped with my fright and a black 
eye. Now I thought I should remain 
hidden, when, all on a sudden, I 
slipped over a round pebble, fell from 
one stone to another, down into the 
depths of the mountain, till at last it 
was pitch dark, and I could neither 
see nor hear anything. Then I found, 



23 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

indeed, that, 'pride goeth before a 
fall,' resigned myself to my fate, and, 
as I had already laid aside all my un- 
happy pride in the cloud, my portion 
was now the salt of humility ; and 
after undergoing many purifications 
from the hidden virtues of metals and 
minerals, I was at length permitted to 
come up once more into the free, 
cheerful air, and now will I run 
back to my sisters, and there wait 
patiently till I am called to something 
better." 

But hardly had she done, when the 
root of a forget-me-not caught the 
drop of water by her hair and sucked 
her in, that she might become a 



25 



4 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

floweret, and twinkle brightly as a 
blue star on the green firmament of 
earth. 



27 



III. 

^ I ^HE Child did not very well know 
what to think of all this ; he 
went thoughtfully home and laid him- 
self on his little bed, and all night 
long he was wandering about on the 
ocean, and among the stars, and over 
the dark mountain. But the moon 
loved to look on the slumbering Child 
as he lay with his little head softly 
pillowed on his right arm. She 
lingered a long time before his little 
window, and went slowly away to 



29 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

lighten the dark chamber of some sick 
person. 

As the moon's soft Hght lay on the 
Child's eyelids, he fancied he sat in a 
golden boat on a great, great water; 
countless stars swam glittering on the 
dark mirror. He stretched out his 
hand to catch the nearest star, but it 
had vanished, and the water sprayed 
up against him. Then he saw clearly 
that these were not the real stars ; he 
looked up to heaven, and wished he 
could fly thither. 

But in the meantime the moon had 
wandered on her way ; and now the 
Child was led in his dream into the 
clouds, and he thought he was sitting 



31 



The Child tries to catch the Star. 




ilx 



^/j.. 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

on a white sheep, and he saw many 
Iambs grazing around him. He tried 
to catch a httle lamb to play with, but 
it was all mist and vapour; and the 
Child was sorrowful, and wished him- 
self down again in his own meadow, 
where his own lamb was sporting gaily 
about. 

Meanwhile the moon was gone to 
sleep behind the mountains, and all 
around was dark. Then the Child 
dreamt that he fell down into the dark, 
gloomy caverns of the mountain, and 
at that he was so frightened that he 
suddenly awoke, just as morning 
opened her clear eye over the nearest 
hill. 



35 



I 



IV. 

TpHE Child started up, and, to 
recover himself from his fright, 
went into the little flower-garden be- 
hind his cottage, where the beds were 
surrounded by ancient palm trees, and 
where he knew that all the flowers 
would nod kindly at him. But, be- 
hold, the tulip turned up her nose, and 
the ranunculus held her head as stiffly 
as possible, that she might not bow 
good-morrow to him. The rose, with 
her fair round cheeks, smiled and 
greeted the Child lovingly; so he 



D 

J 



^9 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

went up to her and kissed her fragrant 
mouth. And then the rose tenderly 
complained that he so seldom came 
into the garden, and that she gave out 
her bloom and her fragrance the live- 
long day in vain ; for the other flowers 
could not see her, because they were 
too low, or did not care to look at her 
because they themselves were so rich 
in bloom and fragrance. But she was 
most delighted when she glowed in 
the blooming head of a child, and 
could pour out all her heart's secrets 
to him in sweet odours. Among 
other things, the rose whispered in his 
ear that she was the Fulness of Beauty. 
And in truth the Child, while look- 



41 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

ing at her beauty, seemed to have 
quite forgotten to go on ; till the blue 
larkspur called to him, and asked 
whether he cared nothing more about 
his faithful friend ; she said that she 
was unchanged, and that even in death 
she should look upon him with eyes 
of unfading blue. 

The Child thanked her for her 
true-heartedness, and passed on to the 
hyacinth, who stood near the puffy, 
full-cheeked, gaudy tulips. Even from 
a distance the hyacinth sent forth 
kisses to him, for she knew not how 
to express her love. Although she 
was not remarkable for her beauty, 
yet the Child felt himself wondrously 



43 



I 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

attracted by her, for he thought no 
flower loved him so well. But the 
hyacinth poured out her full heart and 
wept bitterly, because she stood so 
lonely; the tulips indeed were her 
countrymen, but they were so cold 
and unfeeling that she was ashamed of 
them. The Child encouraged her, 
and told her he did not think things 
were so bad as she fancied. The tulips 
spoke their love in bright looks, while 
she uttered hers in fragrant words : 
that these, indeed, were lovelier and 
more intelligible, but that the others 
were not to be despised. 

Then the hyacinth was comforted, 
and said she would be content; and 



45 



f 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the Child went on to the powdered 
auricula, who, in her bashfulness, 
looked kindly up to him, and would 
gladly have given him more than kind 
looks had she had more to give. But 
the Child was satisfied with her modest 
greeting ; he felt that he was poor too, 
and he saw the deep, thoughtful 
colours that lay beneath her golden 
dust. But the humble flower, of her 
own accord, sent him to her neigh- 
bour, the lily, whom she willingly 
acknowledged as her queen. And 
when the Child came to the lily, the 
slender flower waved to and fro, and 
bowed her pale head with gentle pride 
and stately modesty, and sent forth a 



47 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

fragrant greeting to him. The Child 
knew not what had come to him : it 
reached his inmost heart, so that his 
eyes filled with soft tears. Then he 
marked how the lily gazed with a clear 
and steadfast eye upon the sun, and 
how the sun looked down again into 
her pure chalice, and how, amid this 
interchange of looks, the three golden 
threads united in the centre. And 
the Child heard how one scarlet lady- 
bird at the bottom of the cup said to 
another, "Knowest thou not that we 
dwell in the flower of heaven?" and 
the other replied, " Yes, and now will 
the mystery be fulfilled." 

And as the Child saw and heard all 



49 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

this, the dim image of his unknown 
parents, as it were veiled in a holy 
light, floated before his eyes : he strove 
to grasp it, but the light was gone, and 
the Child slipped, and would have 
fallen, had not the branch of a currant 
bush caught and held him; he took 
some of the bright berries for his 
morning's meal, and went back to his 
hut and stripped the little branches. 



51 



^. 



V. 

TN the hut he stayed not long, all 
was so gloomy, close, and silent 
within, and abroad everything seemed 
to smile, and to exult in the clear 
and unbounded space. Therefore the 
Child went out into the green wood, 
of which the dragon-fly had told him 
such pleasant stories. But he found 
everything far more beautiful and 
lovely even than she had described it ; 
for all about, wherever he went, the 



53 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

tender moss pressed his little feet, and 
the delicate grass embraced his knees, 
and the flowers kissed his hands, and 
even the branches stroked his cheeks 
with a kind and refreshing touch, and 
the high trees threw their fragrant 
shade around him. 

There was no end to his delight. 
The little birds warbled and sang, and 
fluttered and hopped about, and the 
delicate woodflowers gave out their 
beauty and their odours ; and every 
sweet sound took a sweet odour by 
the hand, and thus walked through 
the open door of the Child's heart, and 
held a joyous nuptial dance therein. 
But the nightingale and the lily of the 



55 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

valley led the dance, for the nightin- 
gale sang of nought but love, and the 
lily breathed of nought but innocence, 
and he was the bridegroom and she 
was the bride. And the nightingale 
was never weary of repeating the same 
thing a hundred times over, for the 
spring of love which gushed from his 
heart was ever new; and the lily 
bowed her head bashfully, that no one 
might see her glowing heart. And 
yet the one lived so solely and entirely 
in the other, that no one could see 
whether the notes of the nightingale 
were floating lilies, or the lilies visible 
notes, falling like dewdrops from the 
nightingale's throat. 



57 



i 



t 



i 



I 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

The Child's heart was full of joy 
even to the brim. He set himself 
down, and he almost thought he 
should like to take root there, and live 
for ever among the sweet plants and 
flowers, and so become a true sharer 
in all their gentle pleasures. For he 
felt a deep delight in the still, secluded, 
twilight existence of the mosses and 
small herbs, which felt not the storm, 
nor the frost, nor the scorching sun- 
beam ; but dwelt quietly among their 
many friends and neighbours, feasting 
in peace and good fellowship on the 
dew and cool shadows which the 
mighty trees shed upon them. To 
them it was a high festival when a 



59 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

sunbeam chanced to visit their lowly 
home, whilst the tops of the lofty trees 
could find joy and beauty only in the 
purple rays of morning or evening. 



6i 



The Mouse and Lizard talk to the Child. 



I 



I 



VI. 

A ND as the Child sat there, a Httle 
mouse rustled from among the 
dry leaves of the formier year, and a 
lizard half glided from a crevice in the 
rock, and both of them fixed their 
bright eyes upon the little stranger; 
and when they saw that he designed 
them no evil, they took courage and 
came nearer to him. 



65 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

'^ I should like to live with you," 
said the Child to the two Httle 
creatures, in a soft subdued voice, that 
he might not frighten them. ^^ Your 
chambers are so snug, so warm, and 
yet so shaded, and the flowers grow 
in at your windows, and the birds sing 
you their morning song, and call you 
to table and to bed with their clear 
warblings." 

^^Yes," said the mouse, "it would 
be all very well if all the plants bore 
nuts and mast, instead of those silly 
flowers ; and if I were not obliged to 
grub underground in the spring, and 
gnaw the bitter roots, whilst they are 
dressing themselves in their fine 



67 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

flowers, and flaunting it to the world, 
as if they had endless stores of honey 
in their cellars." 

''Hold your tongue," interrupted 
the Hzard pertly; ''do you think, 
because you are grey, that other people 
must throw away their handsome 
clothes, or let them lie in the dark 
wardrobe under ground, and wear 
nothing but grey too ? I am not so 
envious. The flowers may dress them- 
selves as they like for me ; they pay 
for it out of their own pockets, and 
they feed bees and beetles from their 
cups ; but what I want to know is, of 
what use are birds in the world ? Such 
a fluttering and chattering, truly, from 



69 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

morning early to evening late, that 
one is worried and stunned to death, 
and there is never a day's peace for 
them. And they do nothing; only 
snap up the flies and the spiders out 
of the mouths of such as I. For my 
part^ I should be perfectly satisfied, 
provided all the birds in the world 
were flies and beetles." 

The Child changed colour, and his 
heart was sick and saddened when he 
heard their evil tongues. He could 
not imagine how anybody could speak 
ill of the beautiful flowers, or scoff* at 
his beloved birds. He was waked out 
of a sweet dream, and the wood 
seemed to him lonely and desert, and 



71 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

he was ill at ease. He started up 
hastily, so that the mouse and the 
lizard shrank back alarmed, and did 
not look around them till they thought 
themselves safe out of the reach of the 
stranger with the large severe eyes. 



73 



VII. 

T3 UT the Child went away from the 
^^"^ place, and as he hung down his 
head thoughtfully, he did not observe 
that he took the wrong path, nor see 
how the flowers on either side bowed 
their heads to welcome him, nor hear 
how the old birds from the boughs, 
and the young from the nests, cried 
aloud to him, ''God bless thee, our 
dear little prince ! " And he went on, 
and on, farther and farther into the 
deep wood ; and he thought over the 



75 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

foolish and heartless talk of the two 
selfish chatterers, and could not under- 
stand it. Fie would fain have forgotten 
it, but he could not. And the more 
he pondered, the more it seemed to 
him as if a malicious spider had spun 
her web around him, and as if his 
eyes were weary with trying to look 
through it. 

And suddenly he came to a still 
water, above which young beeches 
lovingly entwined their arms. He 
looked in the water, and his eyes were 
riveted to it as if by enchantment. 
He could not move, but stood and 
gazed in the soft, placid mirror, from 
the bosom of which the tender green 



77 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

foliage, with the deep blue heavens 
between, gleamed so wondrously upon 
him. His sorrow was all forgotten, 
and even the echo of the discord in 
his little heart was hushed. That 
heart was once more in his eyes, and 
fain would he have drunk in the soft 
beauty of the colours that lay beneath 
him, or have plunged into the lovely 
deep. 

Then the breeze began to sigh 
among the tree-tops. The Child 
raised his eyes and saw overhead the 
quivering green, and the deep blue 
behind it, and he knew not whether 
he were awake or dreaming : which 
were the real leaves and the real 



79 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

heaven — those m the heights above, 
or the depths beneath ? Long did the 
Child waver, and his thoughts floated 
in a deHcious dreaminess from one to 
the other, till the dragon-fly flew to 
him in affectionate haste, and with 
rustling wings greeted her kind host. 
The Child returned her greeting, and 
was glad to meet an acquaintance with 
whom he could share the rich feast of 
his joy. But first he asked the dragon- 
fly if she could decide for him between 
the Upper and the Nether — the height 
and the depth ? The dragon-fly flew 
above, and beneath, and around ; but 
the water spake: "The foliage and 
the sky above are not the true ones : 



8i 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the leaves wither and fall ; the sky is 
often overcast, and sometimes quite 
dark." Then the leaves and the sky 
said: "The water only apes us; it 
must change its pictures at our 
pleasure, and can retain none." Then 
the dragon-fly remarked that the 
height and the depth existed only in 
the eyes of the Child, and that the 
leaves and the sky were true and real 
only in his thoughts, because in the 
mind alone the picture was permanent 
and enduring, and could be carried 
with him whithersoever he went. 

This she said to the Child ; but she 
immediately warned him to return, for 
the leaves were already beating the 



83 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

tattoo in the evening breeze, and the 
lights were disappearing one by one in 
every corner. Then the Child con- 
fessed to her with alarm that he knew 
not how he should find the way back, 
and that he feared the dark night 
would overtake him if he attempted 
to go home alone ; so the dragon-fly 
flew on before him and showed him a 
cave in the rock where he might pass 
the night. And the Child was well 
content, for he had often wished to 
try if he could sleep out of his accus- 
tomed bed. 



85 



VIII. 

T3UT the dragon-fly was fleet, and 
^^^ gratitude strengthened her wings 
to pay her host the honour she owed 
him. And, truly, in the dim twihght 
good counsel and guidance were 
scarce. She flitted hither and thither 
without knowing rightly what was to 
be done, when, by the last vanishing 
sunbeam, she saw hanging on the edge 
of the cave some strawberries who had 



87 



The Harebell and the Dragon-fly, 



I 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

drunk so deep of the evening-red that 
their heads were quite heavy. Then 
she flew up to a harebell who stood 
near, and whispered in her ear that 
the lord and king of all the flowers 
was in the wood, and ought to be 
received and welcomed as beseemed 
his dignity. Aglaia did not need that 
this should be repeated. She began 
to ring her sweet bells with all her 
might, and when her neighbour heard 
the sound, she rang hers also ; and 
soon all the harebells, great and small, 
were in motion, and rang as if it had 
been for the nuptials of their mother 
earth herself with the prince of the sun. 
The tone of the bluebells was deep and 



91 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

rich, and that of the white, high and 
clear, and all blended together in a 
delicious harmony. 

But the birds were fast asleep in 
their high nests, and the ears of the 
other animals were not delicate enough, 
or were too much overgrown with hair, 
to hear them. The fire flies alone 
heard the joyous peal, for they were 
akin to the flowers, through their 
common ancestor, light. They in- 
quired of their nearest relation, the lily 
of the valley, and from her they heard 
that a large flower had just passed 
along the footpath more blooming than 
the loveliest rose, and with two stars 
more brilliant than those of the 



93 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

brightest lire-fly, and that it must 
needs be their king. Then all the 
fire-flies flew up and down the foot- 
path, and sought everywhere, till at 
length they came, as the dragon-fly 
had hoped they would, to the cave. 
And now, as they looked at the 
Child, and every one of them saw itself 
reflected in his clear eyes, they rejoiced 
exceedingly, and called all their fellows 
together, and alighted on the bushes 
all around ; and soon it was so light 
in the cave that herb and grass began 
to grow as if it had been broad day. 
Now, indeed, was the joy and triumph 
of the dragon-fly complete. The 
Child was delighted with the merry 



95 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

and silvery tones of the bells, and with 
the many little bright-eyed com- 
panions around him, and with the deep 
red strawberries which bowed down 
their heads to his touch. 



97 



IX. 

A ND when he had eaten his hll, 
he sat down on the soft moss, 
crossed one Httle leg over the other, 
and began to gossip with the fire-flies. 
And as he so often thought on his 
unknown parents, he asked them who 
were their parents. Then the one 
nearest to him gave him answer, and 
he told how that they were formerly 
flowers, but none of those who thrust 
their rooty hands greedily into the 
ground and draw nourishment from 



99 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the dingy earth, only to make them- 
selves fat and large withal ; but that 
the light was dearer to them than any- 
thing, even at night ; and while the 
other flowers slept, they gazed un- 
wearied on the light, and drank it in 
with eager adoration — sun, and moon, 
and star light. And the light had so 
thoroughly purified them, that they 
had not sucked in poisonous juices 
like the. yellow flowers of the earth, 
but sweet odours for sick and fainting 
hearts, and oil of potent ethereal virtue 
for the weak and the wounded ; and 
at length, when their autumn came, 
they did not, like the others, wither 
and sink down, leaf and flower, to be 



lOI 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

swallowed up by the darksome earth, 
but shook off their earthly garment, 
and mounted aloft into the clear air. 
But there it was so wondrously bright, 
that sight failed them ; and when they 
came to themselves again, they were 
fire-flies, each sitting on a withered 
flower-stalk. 

And now the Child liked the bright- 
eyed flies better than ever, and he 
talked a little longer with them, and 
inquired why they showed themselves 
so much more in spring. They did 
it, they said, in the hope that their 
gold-green radiance might allure their 
cousins, the flowers, to the pure love 
of light. 



103 



X. 

TOURING this conversation the 
^-"^ dragon-fly had been preparing 
a bed for her host. The moss upon 
which the Child sat had grown a foot 
high behind his back, out of pure joy ; 
but the dragon-fly and her sisters had 
so revelled upon it, that it was now 
laid at its length along the cave. The 
dragon-fly had awakened every spider 
in the neighbourhood out of her sleep, 



105 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

and when they saw the briUiant Hght, 
they had set to work spinning so in- 
dustriously that their web hung down 
hke a curtain before the mouth of the 
cave. But as the Child saw the ant 
peeping up at him, he entreated the 
fire-flies not to deprive themselves any 
longer of their merry games in the 
wood, on his account. And the 
dragon-fly and her sisters raised the 
curtain till the Child had laid him 
down to rest, and then let it fall again, 
that the mischievous gnats might not 
get in to disturb his slumbers. 

The Child laid himself down to 
sleep, for he was very tired; but he 
could not sleep, for his couch of moss 



^ 107 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

was quite another thing than his Httle 
bed, and the cave was all strange to 
him. He turned himself on one side 
and then on the other, and as nothing 
would do, he raised himself and sat 
upright to wait till sleep might choose 
to come. But sleep would not come 
at all, and the only wakeful eyes in 
the whole wood were the Child's. For 
the harebells had rung themselves 
weary, and the fire-flies had flown 
about till they were tired, and even the 
dragon-fly, who would fain have kept 
watch in front of the cave, had dropped 
sound asleep. 

The wood grew stiller and stiller ; 
here and there fell a dry leaf which 



109 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

had been driven from its old dwelling- 
place by a fresh one; here and there 
a young bird gave a soft chirp v^hen 
its mother squeezed it in the nest ; and 
from time to time a gnat hummed for 
a minute or two in the curtain, till a 
spider crept on tiptoe along its web, 
and gave him such a gripe in the wind- 
pipe as soon spoiled his trumpeting. 
And the deeper the silence became, 
the more intently did the Child listen, 
and at last the slightest sound thrilled 
him from head to foot. At length, all 
was still as death in the wood, and the 
world seemed as if it never would wake 
again. The Child bent forward to see 
whether it were as dark abroad as in 



1 1 1 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the cave, but he saw nothing save the 
pitch-dark night, who had wrapped 
everything in her thick veil. Yet as 
he looked upwards his eyes met the 
friendly glance of two or three stars, 
and this was a most joyful surprise to 
him, for he felt himself no longer so 
entirely alone. The stars were, indeed, 
far, far away, but yet he knew them, 
and they knew him, for they looked 
into his eyes. 

The Child's whole soul was fixed in 
his gaze, and it seemed to him as if he 
must needs fly out of the darksome 
cave thither, where the stars were 
beaming with such pure and serene 
light : and he felt how poor and lowly 



113 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

he was, when he thought of their 
brilhancy ; and how cramped and 
fettered, when he thought of their free 
unbounded course along the heavens. 



115 



XI. 

T3UT the stars went on their course, 
and left their ghttering picture 
only a little while before the Child's 
eyes. Even this faded, and then 
vanished quite away. And he was 
beginning to feel tired, and to wish to 
lay himself down again, when a flicker- 
ing Will-o'-the-wisp appeared from 
behind a bush, so that the Child 
thought, at first, one of the stars had 
wandered out of its way and had come 



117 






The Child sees the Will o' the Wisps. 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

to visit him, and to take him with it. 
And the Child breathed quick with 
joy and surprise, and then the Will- 
o'-the-wisp came nearer Ind sat himself 
down on a damp mossy stone in front 
of the cave, and another fluttered 
quickly after him, and sat down over 
against him, and sighed deeply, 
^^ Thank God, then, that I can rest 
at last ! " 

" Yes," said the other, '^ for that you 
may thank the innocent Child who 
sleeps there within; it was his pure 
breath that freed us." ''Are you 
then," said the Child, hesitatingly, 
'' not of yon stars which wander so 
brightly there above?" " Oh, if we 



121 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

were stars," replied the first, "we 
should pursue our tranquil path 
through the pure element, and should 
leave this wood and the whole dark- 
some earth to itself." ''And not," 
said the other, ''sit brooding on the 
face of the shallow pool." 

The Child was curious to know who 
these could be who shone so beautifully, 
and yet seemed so discontented. Then 
the first began to relate how he had 
been a child too, and how, as he grew 
up, it had always been his greatest 
delight to deceive people and play 
them tricks, to show his wit and clever- 
ness. He had always, he said, poured 
such a stream of smooth words over 



123 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

people, and encompassed himself with 
such a shining mist, that men had been 
attracted by it to their own hurt. But 
once on a time there appeared a plain 
man, who only spoke two or three 
simple words, and suddenly the bright 
mist vanished, and left him naked and 
deformed, to the scorn and mockery 
of the whole world. But the man had 
turned away his face from him in pity, 
while he was almost dead with shame 
and anger. And when he came to 
himself again, he knew not what had 
befallen him, till, at length, he found 
that it was his fate to hover, without 
rest or change, over the surface of the 
bog as a Will-o'-the-wisp. 



125 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

^'With me it fell out quite other- 
wise," said the first ; '^ instead of giving 
light without warmth, as I now do, I 
burned without shining. When I was 
only a child, people gave way to me in 
everything, so that I was intoxicated 
with self-love. If I saw anyone shine, 
I longed to put out his light ; and the 
more intensely I wished this, the more 
did my own small glimmering turn 
back upon myself, and inwardly burn 
fiercely, while all without was darker 
than ever. But if anyone who shone 
more brightly would have kindly given 
me of his light, then did my inward 
flame burst forth to destroy him. But 
the flame passed through the light and 



127 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

harmed it not ; it shone only the more 

brightly, while I was withered and 

exhausted. And once upon a time I 

met a little smiling child, who played 

with a cross of palm branches, and 

wore a beamy coronet around his 

golden locks. He took me kindly by 

the hand and said, ' My friend, you are 
now very gloomy and sad, but if you 

will become a child again, even as I am, 

you will have a bright circlet such as 

I have.' When I heard that, I was so 

angry with myself and with the child, 

that I was scorched by my inward fire. 

Now would I fain fly up to the sun to 

fetch rays from him, but the rays drove 

me back with these words : ^ Return 



129 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

thither whence thou earnest, thou dark 
fire of envy, for the sun Hghtens only 
in love ; the greedy earth, indeed, 
sometimes turns his mild light into 
scorching fire. Fly back, then, for 
with thy like alone must thou dwell.' 
I fell, and when I recovered myself, I 
was glimmering coldly above the stag- 
nant waters." 

While they were talking, the Child 
had fallen asleep ; for he knew noth- 
ing of the world nor of men, and he 
could make nothing of their stories. 
Weariness had spoken a more intelli- 
gible language to him — that he 
understood, and had fallen asleep. 



131 



XII. 

QOFTLY and soundly he slept till 
the rosy morning clouds stood 
upon the mountain, and announced 
the coming of their lord, the sun. But 
as soon as the tidings spread over field 
and wood, the thousand-voiced echo 
aw^oke, and sleep v^as no more to be 
thought of. And soon did the royal 
sun himself arise ; at first, his dazzling 
diadem alone appeared above the 



133 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

mountains ; at length, he stood upon 
their summit in the full majesty of his 
beauty, in all the charms of eternal 
youth, bright and glorious, his kindly 
glance embracing every creature of 
earth, from the stately oak to the blade 
of grass bending under the foot of the 
wayfaring man. 

Then arose from every breast, from 
every throat, the joyous song of praise; 
and it v^as as if the whole plain and 
wood were become a temple, whose 
roof was the heaven, whose altar the 
mountain, whose congregation all 
creatures, whose priest the sun. 

But the Child walked forth and was 
glad, for the birds sang sweetly, and it 



"^35 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

seemed to him as if everything sported 
and danced out of mere joy to be aUve. 
Here flew two finches through the 
thicket, and, twittering, pursued each 
other ; there, * the young buds burst 
asunder, and the tender leaves peeped 
out and expanded themselves in the 
warm sun, as if they would abide in 
his glance for ever; here, a dewdrop 
trembled, sparkling and twinkling on 
a blade of grass, and knew not that 
beneath him stood a little moss who 
was thirsting after him ; there, troops 
of flies flew aloft, as if they would soar 
far over the wood ; and so all was life 
and motion, and the Child's heart 
joyed to see it. 



137 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

He sat down on a little smooth plot 
of turf, shaded by the branches of a 
nut-bush, and thought he should now 
sip the cup of his delight, drop by 
drop. And first he plucked down 
some brambles which threatened him 
with their prickles ; then he bent aside 
some branches which concealed the 
view; then he removed the stones, so 
that he might stretch out his feet at 
full length on the soft turf; and when 
he had done all this, he bethought 
himself what was yet to do ; and as he 
found nothing, he stood up to look for 
his acquaintance, the dragon-fly, and 
to beg her to guide him once more 
out of the wood into the open fields. 



139 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

About midway he met her, and she 
began to excuse herself for having 
fallen asleep in the night. The Child 
thought not of the past, were it even 
but a minute ago, so earnestly did he 
now wish to get out from among the 
thick and close trees ; for his heart 
beat high, and he felt as if he should 
breathe freer in the open ground. The 
dragon-fly flew on before, and showed 
him the way as far as the outermost 
verge of the wood, whence the Child 
could espy his own little hut, and then 
flew away to her playfellows. 



^ 141 



XIII. 

npHE Child walked forth alone 
upon the fresh dewy cornfield. 
A thousand little suns glittered in his 
eyes, and a lark soared warbling above 
his head. And the lark proclaimed 
the joys of the coming year, and 
awakened endless hopes, while she 
soared circling higher and higher, till 
at length her song was like the soft 
whisper of an angel holding converse 
with the spring, under the blue arch 
of heaven. The Child had seen the 



H3 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

earth-coloured little bird rise up before 
him, and it seemed to him as if the 
earth had sent her forth from her 
bosom as a messenger to carry her joy 
and her thanks up to the sun, because 
he had turned his beaming countenance 
again upon her in love and bounty. 
And the lark hung poised above the 
hope-giving field, and warbled her 
clear and joyous song. 

She sang of the loveliness of the rosy 
dawn, and the fresh brilliancy of the 
earliest sunbeams ; of the gladsome 
springing of the young flowers, and the 
vigorous shooting of the corn; and 
her song pleased the Child beyond 
measure. 



145 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

But the lark wheeled in higher and 
higher circles, and her song sounded 
softer and sweeter. 

And now she sang of the first 
delights of early love ; of wanderings 
together on the sunny fresh hilltops, 
and of the sweet pictures and visions 
that arise out of the blue and misty 
distance. The Child understood not 
rightly what he heard, and fain would 
he have understood, for he thought 
that even in such visions must be 
wondrous delight. He gazed aloft 
after the unwearied bird, but she had 
disappeared in the morning mist. 

Then the Child leaned his head on 
one shoulder to listen if he could no 



147 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

longer hear the little messenger of 
spring; and he could just catch the 
distant and quivering notes in which 
she sang of the fervent longing after 
the clear element of freedom, after the 
pure all-present light, and of the 
blessed foretaste of this desired enfran- 
chisement, of this blending in the sea 
of celestial happiness. 

Yet longer did he listen, for the 
tones of her song carried him there, 
where, as yet, his thoughts had never 
reached, and he felt himself happier in 
this short and imperfect flight than 
ever he had felt before. But the lark 
now dropped suddenly to the earth, 
for her little body was too heavy for 



149 



The Red Corn-poppies laugh at the Lark. 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

the ambient ether, and her wings were 
not large nor strong enough for the 
pure element. 

Then the red corn-poppies laughed 
at the homely-looking bird, and cried 
to one another and to the surrounding 
blades of corn in a shrill voice, '^ Now, 
indeed, you may see what comes of 
flying so high, and striving and strain- 
ing after mere air; people only lose 
their time, and bring back nothing but 
weary wings and an empty stomach. 
That vulgar-looking, ill-dressed little 
creature would fain raise herself above 
us all, and has kept up a mighty noise. 
And now there she hes on the ground 
and can hardly breathe, while we have 



^53 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

stood still where we are sure of a good 
meal, and have stayed like people of 
sense where there is something sub- 
stantial to be had ; and in the time she 
has been fluttering and singing, we 
have grown a good deal taller and 
fatter." 

The other little red-caps chattered 
and screamed their assent so loud that 
the Child's ears tingled, and he wished 
he could chastise them for their spite- 
ful jeers ; when a cyane said, in a soft 
voice, to her younger playmates, 
^^Dear friends, be not led astray by 
outward show, nor by discourse which 
regards only outward show. The lark 
is, indeed, weary, and the space into 



^55 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

which she has soared is void ; but the 
void is not what the lark sought, nor 
is the seeker returned empty home. 
She strove after Hght and freedom, and 
hght and freedom has she proclaimed. 
She left the earth and its enjoyments, 
but she has drunk of the pure air of 
heaven, and has seen that it is not the 
earth, but the sun that is steadfast. 
And if earth has called her back, it can 
keep nothing of her but what is its 
own. Her sweet voice and her soar- 
ing wings belong to the sun, and will 
enter into light and freedom long after 
the foolish prater shall have sunk and 
been buried in the dark prison of the 
earth." 



157 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

And the lark heard her wise and 
friendly discourse, and, with renewed 
strength, she sprang once more into 
the clear and beautiful blue. 

Then the Child clapped his little 
hands for joy that the sweet bird had 
flown up again, and that the red-caps 
must hold their tongues for shame. 



159 



XIV. 

A ND the Child was become happy 
and joyful, and brea^thed freely 
again, and thought no more of return- 
ing to his hut, for he sav/ that nothing 
returned inwards, but rather that all 
strove outwards into the free air ; the 
rosy apple blossoms from their narrow 
buds, and the gurgling notes from the 
narrow breast of the lark. The germs 
burst open the folding doors of the 
seeds, and broke through the heavy 



i6i 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

pressure of the earth in order to get at 
the hght ; the grasses tore asunder their 
bands, and their slender blades sprang 
upward. Even the rocks were become 
gentle, and allowed little mosses to 
peep out from their sides, as a sign 
that they would not remain impene- 
trably closed for ever. And the 
flowers sent out colour and fragrance 
into the whole world, for they kept 
not their best for themselves, but would 
imitate the sun and the stars, which 
poured their warmth and radiance over 
the spring. And many a little gnat 
and beetle burst the narrow cell in 
which it was enclosed, and crept out 
slowly, and, half asleep, unfolded and 



163 



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END 

shook its tender wings, and soon gained 
strength, and flew off to untried de- 
hghts. And as the butterflies came 
forth from their chrysaUds in all their 
gaiety and splendour, so did every 
humbled and suppressed aspiration and 
hope free itself, and boldly launch into 
the open and flowing sea of spring. 



165 



HENRY STONE AND SON 

COLOUR PRINTERS 

BANBURY 









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